Successful prosecution of property management firm.

5 July 2012

Solitaire Property Management Limited were fined £1,500 plus costs of £2,000 after pleading guilty to two offences at Southampton Magistrates Court relating to charges of the company’s failure to comply with fire safety law.

Solitaire Property Management Limited failed to respond to a number of requests for information relating to the premises known as Sundowner Block, 31 Channel Way , Ocean Village, Southampton, under Article 27 of the Fire Safety Order.

Solitaire Property Management is responsible for the maintenance and management of blocks of flats and housing developments including both internal and external communal areas.

The successful prosecution was taken forward by Hampshire County Council solicitors for the two breaches and Solitaire Property Management received a fine of £750 per offence and were ordered to pay £1,000 to Hampshire Fire and Rescue Authority and £1,000 to Hampshire County Council.

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service has a responsibility to enforce the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and to identify those persons who have responsibility for the fire safety provisions in specific premises. Current fire safety legislation gives inspectors the power to make enquiries, enabling them to identify the ‘responsible person’ and direct enforcement action towards the correct person.

Assistant Chief Officer Steve Hamm, Head of Community Safety at Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, today said:

“We require information about premises to enable us to carry out our enforcement action and improve the safety of the people of Hampshire. Failure to answer our letters constitutes an offence under the Fire Safety Order and Solitaire Property Management has today been found guilty of this offence.

“We strive to work closely with businesses to help them with their duty to comply under the Fire Safety Order, but where their responsibilities are not taken seriously, the Service will always consider prosecution. This case clearly demonstrates how our fire safety officers are applying the law to help ensure the safety of our community and making Hampshire safer.”

“In the last two years (Oct 2006 – 2008) there have been over 40 prosecutions in the UK against companies failing to comply with the Fire Safety Order. Additionally, fire services nationally have issued over 3,800 enforcement notices during the same period.”

“A number of common trends have emerged since the new fire safety law came into force. These include: blocked or locked exits, poorly maintained fire escape staircases, lack of staff fire training storage of combustible materials in boiler rooms, lack of fire alarms, lack of emergency lighting, lack of fire doors, and in many cases lack of suitable fire risk assessment.”

Assistant Chief Officer Hamm added:

“We would like this case to act as a timely reminder to business owners and landlords throughout Hampshire that the Fire Safety Order is in place, and that the regulations placing responsibilities on businesses are there to make people safer.

“We will continue to use the Service’s powers where necessary in order to improve the standards of safety throughout the county. The Service believes the verdict, together with the scale of the fine, gives a clear message to members of the business community in Hampshire of the need to respond to requests for information.”

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